Residents are being reminded to mosquito-proof themselves and their homes after the first signs of West Nile virus activity were identified in Allen County.
West Nile virus is commonly found throughout the state each summer and there is usually an increase in activity as the season progresses. Starting in late June, the Department of Health has been trapping and testing mosquitoes for disease such as West Nile virus (WNv), Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and St. Louis Encephalitis (SLE) as part of its mosquito control program.
A sample of mosquitoes collected from the 500 block of Elmer Avenue off North Wells Street near Franke Park tested positive for West Nile virus this week. This is the first positive sample of the season in Allen County.
The Department of Health no longer routinely sprays when West Nile virus is detected. The focus is now on primary prevention measures, such as education, source reduction and larviciding.
While most cases of West Nile virus are mild, a small percentage can result in central nervous system problems that can be life-threatening. In 2012, Allen County had 12 humans cases of West Nile virus, including two deaths.
"As we do every summer, we urge people to take precautions by wearing insect repellent when working or playing outdoors and to rid their yards of mosquito breeding areas," said Dave Fiess, director of Vector Control and Environmental Services.
Residents can also do just that by emptying flower pots and other containers, replacing water in birdbaths, getting rid of un-rimmed tires, cleaning out clogged gutters and eliminating standing water on their property. The Department of Health also offers free mosquito-eating fish for ornamental ponds and water gardens.
For more information, visit www.allencountyhealth.com or call (260) 449-7459 during normal business hours.
About West Nile virus (WNv)
WNv is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. Most people who become ill from these diseases will have mild symptoms such as headache, fever, dizziness and fatigue, but severe neurological symptoms, coma and even death can occur. People over age 50 and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from WNv.
Mosquito Prevention Tips
Check your property for breeding sites.
Eliminate any sources of standing water. Clean out gutters and birdbaths. Properly dispose of tires.
Maintain swimming pools and hot tubs. Make sure septic tanks, rain barrels and garbage cans are covered.
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home.
Limit time spent outdoors during peak mosquito biting times.
When possible, wear loose, light-colored clothing, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
Apply an insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.